March 24, 2020
Arts & Culture Latest News | Coronavirus | Bangor Metro | Susan Collins | Today's Paper

As event delays and cancellations pile up, some organizers take a wait-and-see approach

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Veterans walk in the Memorial Day parade in Bangor last May. The Junior ROTC cadets who organize the parade are using contingency planning as a learning exercise. Gabor Degre | BDN

As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 23, 107 Maine residents have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.

As mandatory social distancing measures seem likely to stretch on for weeks more in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many of the major events on the social calendar for Maine during the spring and early summer have been canceled already. But organizers of some other events are opting to wait and see what happens.

Health Equity Alliance, a statewide public health organization that has organized Bangor Pride for the past few years, took the early step of postponing Bangor’s Pride celebrations — which were scheduled for June 20-27— to August. The Portland Pride board of directors made a similar call around the same time, also postponing June events to August.

Whitney Parrish, director of advocacy and communications for Health Equity Alliance, said postponing Pride was the only choice organizers could have made, given the circumstances. Especially since HIV and AIDS, which weaken the immune system, continue to disproportionately affect LGBTQ communities.

[Here’s what has been canceled or postponed in Maine due to coronavirus]

“[It became] the clear path forward as we factor in the vulnerabilities of our community and the intensifying, constantly evolving global crisis at hand,” said Parrish. “Many in our community live with immunocompromising and underlying conditions and have loved ones who are at high risk of complications with infection.”

In addition to sports events at all levels, many other large events statewide remain up in the air for May and June. Waterfront Concerts and State Theatre Presents, both of which book concerts at venues including the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, Thompson’s Point in Portland and both the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor and Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, have canceled or postponed all of their shows through the end of April.

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
In this July 2017 photo, Seether fans rock out during the 5th annual Rise Above Fest at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor.

Going into May, however, most concerts are tentatively scheduled to go on as planned, as are many festivals and other events happening statewide. Many businesses and organizations are taking a wait-and-see approach to plans for the rest of the spring and summer. In some cases, it may simply be too early to make the call, given the ever-changing nature of the virus’ spread and the many unanswered questions regarding its behavior.

The students in Bangor High School’s Junior ROTC program each year plan Bangor’s Memorial Day parade and JROTC instructor Lt. Col. Darryl Lyons said he is having his cadets use the real-life events unfolding in their community as a learning exercise.

“What I’ve asked them to do is to put together a contingency plan, in the event that the actual parade could be pulled off,” said Lyons. “How could we do it? What would it look like? Could we cancel in 30 days? Fifteen days? Zero days? This sort of planning is part of what we do. It’s becoming a lesson for us.”

No specific plans for the parade have yet been made, but Lyons said the cadets are preparing for as many eventualities as they can.

“We will do it in the event that we can, based on what state and local officials say,” he said. “I think we owe it to the community to do it if we can. And wouldn’t that be a great event to have, if it’s possible?”

Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease

 


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